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NFL Draft stock report: Safeties

Eleven weeks into the college football season, many top players have seen their draft stock rise, fall or stay steady. In our latest NFL Draft series, we take a look at some of these prospects. Today we conclude the series with safety.




Recruiting: In the summer before his senior season, Hooker committed to Ohio State over Michigan, Pitt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Penn State, his five other finalists.

Performance: Hooker is third on the Buckeyes with 55 tackles including 4.5 for loss and a team-high five interceptions. He also has nine pass deflections for Ohio State, which allows just 12.7 points per game.

Farrell’s take: Hooker was a mid-level three-star prospect who slid under the radar a bit his senior year and turned into a steal for Ohio State. He was always athletic, but only played two years of high school football and was a bit raw at his position. Hooker developed into a ball hawk in coverage, and we missed on this one compared to the competition. He was a better basketball player than a football player in high school, that’s how elite he was at both, and he’s taken that athleticism and turned himself into a rising NFL safety.

Recruiting: Seeking more offers out of high school, Evans went to junior college and landed offers from Texas A&M, Auburn, Georgia, Nebraska, Ole Miss and Baylor. About a month after receiving an offer from the Aggies, he committed.

Performance: Evans is the team leader with 78 tackles, including five for loss and he also has a team-high four interceptions. He has also broken up six passes and blocked a kick.

Farrell’s Take: A high three-star out of JUCO, Evans had the experience and size to make an early impact in college and he has done so. Evans picked up football late and didn't have the offers he wanted coming out of high school. He was all over the field as a sure-tackler who could make plays on the ball and was often in the right place at the right time in the junior college ranks. That knack for play-making has followed him to the SEC and he’s around the ball a lot making scouts take notice even more this season.


Recruiting: In May before his senior season, Peppers committed to Michigan over Penn State and others. At one point, Stanford was the frontrunner, but the Wolverines were his childhood favorite.

Performance: Peppers is second on the Wolverines with 59 tackles including 14 for loss and four sacks. The former five-star also has eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Peppers has also been used on offense and is a tremendous asset on special teams.

Farrell’s take: Peppers' move to a hybrid linebacker/safety role this season came as a bit of a surprise at first, but it has been nothing short of genius. Su’a Cravens' draft stock was hurt by being a ‘tweener of sorts, but he dropped down to linebacker full-time whereas Peppers plays everywhere. From the first time I saw Peppers as a freshman corner at Bosco to his dominant years at Paramus Catholic, this kid was always special and always a leader, and he’s still talked about possibly as a top five pick.

Recruiting: Adams committed to LSU over Florida at the Under Armour All-America Game. Ole Miss, Texas, Texas A&M and others were also involved. At the time, Adams’ godfather, Joker Phillips, was on the Gators’ coaching staff, but the four-star still chose to play at LSU.

Performance: Adams is third on the Tigers with 60 tackles including 4.5 for loss. He also has one interception, a forced fumble and Adams has recovered a fumble for an LSU team that allows just 13.9 points per outing.

Farrell’s Take: The safety position is becoming more and more important in the NFL and Adams is a whirling dervish at the position. He’s not that long, but he is filled out, an aggressive tackler and is always around the football. This kid was always high energy and had great leadership skills out of high school and that has continued in college. He has excellent anticipation in the run game, which will also make him highly coveted. Whoever drafts him will draft a defensive leader similar to Peppers.


Recruiting: Jackson did not play in his junior year of high school because of academics, so his recruitment didn’t take off until September of his senior year. Around that time, Florida State offered and he made a snap decision to commit. He backed off that pledge shortly thereafter, as LSU and Alabama became contenders. He ended up signing with the Crimson Tide.

Performance: In eight games this season, Jackson recorded 24 tackles and an interception. He suffered a season-ending leg injury in Alabama’s win over Texas A&M on Oct. 22.

Farrell’s take: Jackson was a wide receiver prospect for us out of high school. His ball skills were a big plus as one of the top 50 wideouts in 2013, but his size was a drawback. Jackson's turn at cornerback for the Crimson Tide didn’t go that well, but as a safety he uses all those skills we liked. He’s gotten so much stronger without adding a ton of size but his injury mid-season has hurt his stock.

Recruiting: A long-time Florida lean, Maye committed to then-coach Will Muschamp in the summer prior to his senior season. Florida State and Alabama rounded out his top three but Maye said at the time he knew he’d pick the Gators for a of couple months.

Performance: Maye is third on the Gators with 50 tackles along with one sack, an interception and six pass breakups this season. He will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken arm against South Carolina.

Farrell’s Take: Maye was a big kid and always a willing hitter who could easily handle bigger players, shed blocks and make tackles close to the line of scrimmage. His length allowed him to be effective in coverage and he could have grown into a linebacker if needed. In fact, he played linebacker at the Under Armour All-America Game when they needed an extra player at the position and he led everyone in tackles. He’s Florida’s 2016 version of Keanu Neal, a first-round pick who is excelling for the Atlanta Falcons. However, his recent injury will lead to some questions that need answering come combine and pro day time.